Many will read this book’s title and make up their minds before turning a page. But this is why Heavy Burdens is desperately needed. Whatever your view on sexuality, it should make us all uncomfortable that gay young people are 38 per cent more likely to contemplate suicide if involved in faith communities.
Bridget Eileen Rivera is a gay Christian who has chosen celibacy. She takes the reader on a journey through Church history, highlighting the hypocritical treatment of queer people in the Church, and ends with a call to humility and hope.
Bridget presents seven burdens that the Church has unnecessarily placed on the LGBTQ community. She invites the reader to consider why they think, act, and respond to gay people with less grace than straight people. Drawing a line from the Reformation to more recent debates on translation, Bridget exposes the inconsistencies that have led many Christians to dehumanise gay people.
Why do Christians see gay “sinners” very differently than how they see themselves as “sinners”? Why do Christians accuse LGBTQ people of making sex the sum total of their identity, when the predominant evangelical approach to gender identity defines human beings by sex? Bridget is gracious but firm in her exploration of these questions.
Bridget closes her book by asking for the global Church to learn to cooperate. If believers can respect each other but disagree on the timing of baptism – a sacrament across all traditions – then why can they not cooperate despite disagreements on sexuality? It’s a compelling question. If our salvation hinges on the saving work of Jesus Christ and him alone then, in Bridget’s words, should we not “do our best to be faithful to the witness of scripture while affirming the best efforts of our siblings in Christ to also be faithful to the witness of scripture”?